It's after the Lord Mayor's Show for ragged Rainworth
IT was very much an ‘After the Lord Mayor’s Show’ afternoon for Rainworth on today, as they effectively rolled over rather then being turned over by visitors Newcastle Town.
Manager Kevin Gee had challenged the Wrens to end the season on a high, and they went into this game on the back of a four-match unbeaten run—ironically launched at Newcastle’s Aspire Stadium—culminating in East Monday’s victory over promotion chasing Carlton Town.
But if they were at their best that day they were very much at the opposite extreme against their Potteries visitors who didn’t really have to break too much sweat to return along the A50 with the points.
With Danny Bacon sidelined through illness Rainworth lacked any midfield bite or invention, and a toothless front line never troubled a Town rearguard which lacked all three of their regular central midfielders.
To make matters worse, on a day when the match programme cover picture featured the presentation of the division’s Fair Play award for March, they had substitute Cameron Fearon sent off in the 88th minute, just nine minutes after his introduction.
It was a disappointing farewell to assistant manger Lee Wilkinson, who has stepped down because of his increasing business commitments.
Wilkinson was the first player signed by Rudy Funk when he took the managerial reins at Kirklington Road in 2005, and has served the club as player, captain, assistant manager and joint manager during his seven-year stay.
Sean Turner gave the visitors a 37th minute lead, and in added time the second and almost carbon copy goal was finally awarded to on-loan Crewe Alexandra striker Harry Clayton, although fellow front man Leon Ashton apparently also thought he had a claim—either way defender Ricky Hanson had the final touch, but in seeking to clear he could only help it into the net.
In truth Newcastle’s winning margin could have been greater but for a few excellent saves from Alessandro Barcherini, who was edged out of their Man of the Match only by another immense and faultless show by Mark Camm, whose fourth successive award was probably a club record.
Rainworth made three changes from the side which had started against Carlton. Skipper Steve Kennedy returned to the heart of the defence in place of hamstring victim Lee Cooksey, Curtis Shaw was preferred to Rob Paing while Nathan Adams, unavailable on Monday, returned in place of the stricken Bacon.
The Wrens began with the blustery wind at their backs, but it was Newcastle who made the early running, although Rainworth gained the first chance with a fourth-minute free kick which Adams drove straight into the defensive wall.
That marked a spell of home promise but Sam Hart was quickly across the visitors’ box to deny Ryan Goward a shot, and Adams fizzed a 20-yard effort wide in the 11th minute.
A curling effort from Goward four minutes later had Town keeper Dave Parton stretching, but really Rainworth were not taking anywhere near enough advantage of the favourable breeze.
As Newcastle regained the upper hand Clayton’s back post header onto a lobbed cross was too high.
But they were in front in the 37th minute. Adams’ misplaced pass sent Ashman running into the left of the area. Barcherini did just enough to turn the shot onto the post and out for a corner, but from that Turner turned the ball over the line.
The second half continued where the first had left off with Newcastle showing the greater purpose and Jack Harrison particularly lively on the flank. And, following a double substitution which saw Ant Lynam and Stephen Akers introduced, Barcherini made a great double save, first denying Ashman with his legs and then getting his body well behind the follow-up.
The Wrens keeper was in action again on 76, in direct contrast to his untroubled opposite number, turning Ashman’s header onto the bar and behind from a free kick.
Gee gambled by bringing off Adams, sending on Fearon, switching Hanson to the left side of defence and pushing Goward forward.
But, after Barcherini had saved with his legs yet again to thwart Clayton, Fearon had the home bench members rushing out of the dugout in anger after an apparent stamp on Connor, and was shown an immediate red card.
Barcherini made one more fine save in added time, turning Clayton’s well-struck effort for a corner. But as with the first goal, he could do nothing when, from the resulting flag kick, the ball finished in the net and all that remained was to establish the identity of the scorer, Clayton.
RAINWORTH: Barcherini, Hanson, Goward, Camm, Kennedy, Plant, Shaw, Graham (Lynam 53), Spargo (Akers 53), Adams (Fearon 79), Hollis. Sub not used: Paling.
NEWCASTLE TOWN: Parton, Askey, Hart, Haynes, Whitytaker, Carter, Diskin (Connor 80), Turner (Nicholls 69), Clayton, Ashman, Harrison. Sub not used: Bratt.
REFEREE: Andrew Varney of Leicester.
WRENS MAN OF THE MATCH: Mark Camm.